MORPHEUS vs. Everybody

By | February 26, 2021
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MORPHEUS blocks potential attacks by encrypting and randomly reshuffling key bits of its own code and data twenty times per second. (The Michigan Engineer/Getty Images)

An “unhackable” computer chip lived up to its name, foiling over 500 hackers who were offered tens of thousands of dollars to crack it and three other secure processor technologies. MORPHEUS, developed by electrical engineering and computer science researchers at U-M, weathered the virtual competition, which ran from June through August of 2020.

The U-M team achieved its results by abandoning a cornerstone of traditional computer security—finding and eliminating software bugs, explained Todd Austin, the team’s leader and professor of computer science and engineering. MORPHEUS works by reconfiguring key bits of its code and data dozens of times per second, turning any vulnerabilities into dead ends for hackers. “Imagine trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube that rearranges itself every time you blink,” Austin said. “That’s what hackers are up against with MORPHEUS. It makes the computer an unsolvable puzzle.”